Published: 19 Nov 2021

Sustainability was not only the key focus of COP26 and the CQI’s World Quality Week (8-12 November), but it’s also become a major priority for organisations, according to NatWest’s recent UK Sustainability Purchasing Managers’ Index (PMI).

The UK bank’s report, which looks at how climate concerns are influencing purchasing decisions, is further confirmation of the nation’s growing commitment to going green.  
 
Over half of UK businesses say that customer expectations are a major driving force for their sustainability actions. This is supported by consumer desire for recycling (81%), reduced packaging (82%) and cleaner business processes (81%).  
 
As a result, companies are prioritising sustainability, focusing on sustainable process improvement and developing sustainable products.  

The latest ISO Survey revealed an increase in global certificates for standards such as ISO 50001 (practical guidance on improving energy use), which saw a 9.7% rise worldwide in 2020. Given the findings from NatWest’s sustainability report, this trend in the uptake of related standards such as ISO 14001 Environmental Management is set to rise in the coming years. 
 

Over half of UK businesses say that customer expectations are a major driving force for their sustainability actions.


However, during uncertain times of supply chain disruption and Covid-19 delaying progress, UK businesses need more support to deliver their strategic aims. Mike Turner, Head of Profession at the CQI, believes quality management can help organisations to achieve both their corporate objectives and stakeholder satisfaction. 

“It is important for leaders to recognise the key role that quality professionals can play in turning sustainable intentions into measurable results, and how quality management can support organisations to do the right thing, first time and every time,” he says.  
 
NatWest’s report is justified in calling on the government, banks and authorities to step up and provide support so that businesses can realise their green ambitions. However, there is also an important role for quality professionals to play in supporting UK business, through transforming products, services, systems and processes.